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Craig Waltz of Long Beard and others in the Long Island beer scene look to Riverhead as the beer ‘hub.’ (Credit: Courtesy photo)

Riverhead is growing a beard to go along with its mustache.

Inspired by the success of other small Riverhead beer companies like Moustache Brewing Co., start-up brewery Long Beard Brewing Co. signed a lease to rent space at an old fire station in Riverhead this morning. The brewery will be located at the former second street firehouse in downtown Riverhead.

Co-owner Paul Carlin said no opening date has been set, though he and business partner Craig Waltz are looking at March 2016.

“It’s kind of hard to say. It’s impossible to predict. The licensing process itself could take up to nine months,” Carlin said. “But we’re very, very excited.”

About a quarter of the 3,800-square-foot space will be devoted to a tasting room and Carlin and Waltz plan to install five barrel fermentors by opening day. The brewery will take up about a third of the building, which was built in 1935.

“It gives us a lot of room for growth,” Carlin, 42, of Rocky Point, said of the downtown space.

Bob Castaldi, who is restoring the building and also owns the nearby Suffolk Theater, said his new tenant will be a positive for Riverhead’s ongoing revitalization.

“I think it’s going to fit in well with Riverhead. I think its going to bring a lot of people down to that area,” he said. “I think it’s going to become a destination place.”

Castaldi said he is in talks to rent the other portion of the historic building, though no deals have been finalized.

“We have a couple of things in the works, but it’s coming together,” he said.

Carlin and his partner started off as home brewers and still make their recipes at home, mostly for friends, family and potential investors. Their company was founded in 2012, though their brews have not previously been available for wholesale or in beer distributors.

“I came out with a couple of good beers. I got a push from a couple of people to start a brewery and I said ‘Yes,’” he said.

Carlin, who met Waltz while the pair were working as boat mechanics at Ralph’s Fishing Station in Mt. Sinai, said the new brand will reflect their working class roots and lifestyle.

“We are going to brand it the way we are,” Carlin said. “We are big beer guys, hunters and outdoorsmen.”

Long Beard’s flagship IPA and pale ale will be available upon the brewery’s launch, Carlin said, and will expand its portfolio to lesser known varieties like abbyweizens and sour beers.

“We’re going to have everything under the sun,” Carlin said. “We will have every different flavor for everybody’s different palates.”

In addition to Moustache, Long Beard joins Crooked Ladder Brewing Co. and Long Ireland Beer Co. as Riverhead’s fourth craft brewery. Both Crooked Ladder and Moustache expanded output capacity last year and the trio of breweries were named the Riverhead News-Review’s businesses of the year in 2014. Another producer, Twin Fork Beer Co., is based in Riverhead but does not have its own production space.

Long Ireland co-owner Dan Burke said that more breweries in town makes Riverhead more attractive for craft beer afficionados.

“It definitely anchors Riverhead as a beer destination. You will be able to visit multiple breweries on the same day,” Burke said. “There is still spirit of camaraderie among the small craft brewers. We’re trying to raise the bar and make better beer.”

The pair were nudged toward Riverhead by the success of Long Ireland, where Waltz worked as an intern, Carlin said.

“I said, ‘Maybe this is the place to be,” he said. “They were very friendly toward the local brewing community.”

Expect Long Beard brews available by the growler, keg, bottle and on tap at local restaurants when it launches next year.

“We plan on flooding the market as much as we can,” Carlin said. “We plan to self distribute as long as we can. As long as we can hang in there by ourselves.”